Traces of Ideology in Translating the Qurān into English: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Six Cases across Twenty Versions

Abdunasir I. A. Sideeg


This research article aims to explore and critically examine six cases in which traces of ideology are explicitly or implicitly involved in the context of translating the Qurān into English. It attempts to answer questions pertinent to the nature and effect of traces of ideology on translating the Qurān in English and the way they shape the Qurānic message. The article employs a critical qualitative framework that allows for the researcher’s subjective interpretations of relevant texts. Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is used for the analysis of data as this approach provides a convenient mode of critical thinking to carry out the present thesis. In this article, six texts across twenty versions of the Qurān in English are investigated in terms of their salient features that reflect peculiar ideological readings. Major findings indicate that complex traces of ideology may contribute to a particular choice in translating the salient features in the texts investigated. The case of Helminski, for instance, shows how cultural and linguistic backgrounds, Sufi doctrines, and feminist agendas all combine to produce a radical reading of the Qurān in English where she consistently refers to Allah (SWT) with the combination he/she. Sufi ideologies are crucial in translating some pronouns with controversial references in some Qurānic verses. As well, gnostic interpretations have their own legacy such as the alteration in Khalifa’s ‘authorized version’. Plus, Neo-Mutazilite and Qurānist traces of ideology significantly contribute to produce alien readings of some Qurānic texts as illustrated in cases (5) and (6) in this research article.     



Qurān, traces of ideology, critical discourse analysis (CDA), sacred feminine, Sufi

Full Text:



Abdel Haleem, M. A. S. (1992). Grammatical shift for the rhetorical purposes: Iltifāt and related features in the Qur'ān. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Volume LV, Part 3, pp. 407-432

Abdel Haleem, M.A.S. (2004). The Qurān. Oxford University Press

Ahmad, K. and Ali, S. A. (1997). Hadith: a re-evaluation. Retrieved June 15, 2012 from:

Ahmed, A. (2001). Al-Quran: a contemporary translation. Princton University Press

Ahmed, S (2007). The criminals of Islam. Retrieved February 27, 2013 from:

Ahmed, S. (2006). Islam: the true history and false beliefs. Retrieved January 12, 2015 from:

Ahmed, S. (2014). Divine feminine in Islam. Retrieved May 18, 2014 from:

Aichele, G. (2002). Translation as de-canonization: Matthew’s Gospel according to Pasolini. Retrieved February 8, 2013 from:

Arberry, A.J. (1996). The Koran interpreted. Touchstone.

Asad, M. (1980). The message of the Qurān. Gibraltar: Dar Al-Andlus.

Bakhtiar, L. (2009). The sublime Qurān. Kazi Publication.

Busool, A.N. (2011). The wise Qurān: a new translation. Xlibris Corporation.

Dawood, N. J. (2006). The Koran. Penguin Books.

De Waard, J. and E. Nida, A. (1986). From one language to another: functional equivalence in Bible translating. Nashville: Nelson.

Dörnyei, Z. (2007) Research methods in applied linguistics. Oxford University Press

Galian, L. (2004). The centrality of the divine feminine in Sufism. Published in the Proceedings of the "2nd Annual Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities, Honolulu, Hawaii. Retrieved April 12, 2013 from:

Hassen, R. (2011). English translation of the Qurān by women: the challenges of “gender balance” in and through language. MonTI, 3, 211-230.

Hatim B. and Mason, I. (1997). The translator as communicator. London, Routledge

Helminski, C.A. (2000). The light of dawn: daily readings from the holy Qurān. Shambhala Threshold Book.

Herrag, E. (2012). The ideological factor in the translation of sensitive issues from the Qurān into English, Spanish and Catalan. A doctoral thesis at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Departament de Traduccio i Interpretacio.

Hidayatullah, A. A. (2014). Feminist edges of the Qurān. Oxford University Press.

Hulusi, A. and A. Atalay (2013). Decoding the Quran: a unique Sufi interpretation. Decoding the Quran.

Jaffer, M. (2007)."Rumi and the sacred feminine." Retrieved, December 12, 2012 from:

Khalifa, R. (2005). Qurān: the final testament, authorized English version with Arabic text. Submission Org.

Khalifa, R. (2010). Qurān: the final testament, authorized English version of the original. Smashwords Edition.

Kidwai, A. (2013). What is in the Qurān? Message of the Qurān in simple English. Viva Books.

Lefevere, A. (2004). Translation, rewriting and the manipulation of literary fame. Routledge.

Lyons, J. (1995). Introduction to theoretical linguistics. Cambridge University Press.

Madigan, T. (1998). A woman with perfume and prayer speaks with Christ-Sophia: Wisdom as a basis for dialogue between Christians and Muslims. A paper presented at 'Gathering the Threads' Women Scholars in Religion and Theology Conference, Brisbane, January 1998. Retrieved December 8, 2013 from:

Meyer, M. (2001). “Between theory, method, and politics: positioning of the approaches to CDA.” In Wodak, R. and M. Meyer (Eds.), Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis, Sage Publications, pp. 14-31.

Monotheist Group. (2012). The Qurān: a monotheist translation. USA: Bainbow Press.

Nicholson, R. A. (Trans.) (2002). The Mathnawi Jalaluddin Rumi. Gibb Memorial Trust, 2002, V:701.

Petrescu, C. (2009). Ideology and translation. Professional Communication and Translation Studies, 2(1-2), 93-96.

Poythress, V. and G. Grudem (2000). The gender-neutral Bible controversy: muting the masculinity of God's words. Broadman and Holman Publishers.

Qurān. Islamawakened. Retrieved October 10, 2013 from:

Rafiabadi, H. N. (2003). World religions and Islam: a critical study, part I. Sarup and Sons.

Robinson, N. (2007). Sectarian and ideological bias in Muslim translations of the Qurān. Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, 8(3), 261-278.

Saheeh International (2010). The translation of the Qurān. Al-Muntada Al-Islami Trust.

Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (2007). Oxford University Press.

Sideeg, A.I. (2014). Sources of linguistic variations in the translation of the Qurān: a critical discourse analysis of eighty versions of the Qurān in English. Unpolished PhD Thesis at OIU.

Starkovsky, N. (2005). The Koran handbook: an annotated translation. Algora Publishing, New York.

Strauss, L. (2008). Why the English standard version (ESV) should not become the standard English version. Retrieved September 11, 2013 from:

Tarazi, O. (2012). Allah's Words in plain English. Independent Publisher

Tavakoli, H. (2013), A dictionary of research methodology and statistics in applied linguistics. Rahnama Press.

Thomas, R. L (2002). Dynamic equivalence: a method of translation or a system of hermeneutics? In R. L. Thomas (ed.) Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New Versus the Old, pp. 81-112. Kregel Academic.

Tymoczko, M. and Gentzler, E. (eds.). (2002). Translation and power. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press

Van Dijk T. A. (2006). Ideology and discourse analysis. Journal of Political Ideology, 11(2), 115-140.

Van Dijk, T. A. (2001). Multidisciplinary CDA: a plea for diversity. In R. Wodak and M. Meyer (Eds.), Methods of critical discourse analysis. London: Sage Publications.

Wodak, R. (2009). Critical discourse analysis: history, agenda, theory, and methodology. In R. Wodak, and M. Meyer (Eds.), Methods for Critical Discourse Analysis. (pp. 1-33).

Wodak, R., and Meyer, M. (Eds.). (2009). Methods of critical discourse analysis. Sage.

Yuksel, E. (2003)."The Qurān: a reformist translation: eight unique features." Retrieved April 18, 2014 from:

Yuksel, E., al-Shaiban, L. S., and Schulte-Nafeh, M. (2007). Reformist translation. Brainbow Press.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2022 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.